UK Gamers Get Full Refund for Broken Games, British Consumer Rights Act Updated


It looks like gamers from the UK are getting some more protections against losing money on broken games. The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 has been updated, effective today, so that games that are deemed to be faulty can be fully refunded to the customer.

Consumer Rights Act of 2015 update covers digital content in the UK

The UK has some strict consumer protection laws that, when resolution is sought properly, can actually be beneficial to consumers. The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 is adding even more protection for the consumer, widening it's reach. There are two bullet points that are pertinent here. The first tells us that all digital content is covered by the act. This means separate DLC, add-ons and even weapon skins you might download.

  • This will be the first time that rights on digital content will have been set out in legislation. The Act gives consumers a clear right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online film and games, music downloads and e-books. The law here has been unclear up until now and this change brings us up to date with how digital products have evolved.

The second bullet point tells us that when a service isn't quite the experience you expected, or isn't complete, then you can seek a remedy to the situation, asking for a full refund if necessary.

  • For the first time, there are clear rules for what should happen if a service is not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed. For example, the business that provided the service must bring it into line with what was agreed with the customer or, if this is not practical, must give some money back.

They provide a great example of how this would work with digital games. Let's say that you're playing a free-to-play MMORPG, say Star Wars: The Old Republic. You play through the free portion, getting to Coruscant easily. Once there you want to change your race to something that costs money. Lets's pretend they put in something that just wasn't the complete experience. The textures don't bind to the model, it looks weird and it just doesn't meet what would be reasonable expectations of a good product. You can then take the proper steps to contact BioWare and ask for a refund, and they have to seek a remedy, by law.

The question then becomes, what exactly is considered acceptable, and by what standards are we making this decision? The wording from the digital section of the law seems to have provisions for developers who specifically state or otherwise let consumers know that it might not be complete. So a proper warning could prevent you from getting a refund.

But it seems that any promises of content that aren't there can be grounds for a full refund under the law. But mostly it states that it has to be free from minor defects and fit within the description of the content. So it would be interesting to see what games would actually qualify under this act. Would one have been able to get a refund for Battlefield 4 when it released? What about Destiny and it's lack of content that didn't quite live up to it's promises.

But regardless of the circumstances, the protections that consumers have with digital content are much better now in the UK. The responsibility still falls upon you to speak up and pursue the refund, but at least the law is on your side and there are ways to find resolution, should you choose to pursue them.